Live Music Review: Paula Cole, This Stream

I’m not sure Paula Cole can ever disappoint me.

On Saturday night the great searcher of cowboys performed a concert at the intimate White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, NJ.

Paula Cole
Courtesy of American International Artists

Now the concert was not This Fire Paula Cole, it was more “this stream.” Instead of the usual hard hitting Cole I have seen in the past, one who can bang on the piano with vocals to match, this concert flowed like an easy stream amongst smooth pebbles.

A show filled with social and political undertones, Cole opened the concert with “Watch The Woman’s Hands.” This is a track off of her first album Harbinger. Laced with female empowerment, Cole sang this song with passion and fury through her phrasing and vocal tones, proving Cole does not have to use her vocal acrobatics to make her point.

Next, Cole went into a song off her latest album Ballads, “I Wish (I Knew How It Feels to Be Free).” Her likeness of this song can only be compared with the originator, Nina Simone. Yes, it was that good. Cole brought this song with a calm intensity in a society that desperately needs its message.

As the concert continued, Paula Cole sang many fan favorites, including her smash hit “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone” along with lesser known songs like “Carmen” and “Strong Beautiful Woman.” Gratitude filled the room from Cole as she ended each song to applause and standing ovations.

Paula Cole
Courtesy of American International Artists

I have never felt more “thanked” for loving an artist than how Cole made me feel during her show.

It was easy to see Cole’s gratitude to her listeners when she called up a long time fan to join her on “Hush, Hush, Hush.” The bridge of this song is sung by Peter Gabriel on her This Fire album, but tonight it was sung by a fan simply known as Vincent to the audience. Cole said how she heard him sing the bridge of this song and she spontaneously asked him to join her on stage; a fan’s biggest dream.

Although, one must be warned, you never know what you are going to get when you see Paula Cole, but one thing is certain, you will have a profound experience. Whether it’s Paula belting her anguish or calmly portraying her grief and frustration, you will always walk away with a message of hope and resilience wrapped in the only medium that portrays both simultaneously, music.

Read my other articles on Paula Cole:

Transcending: A Conversation with Paula Cole

Vinyl Music Review: Paula Cole, Ballads – Uncanny and Reverent